LONDON – European carriers are no longer allowed to operate Preighter flights, as mentioned by the European Air Safety Agency (EASA).
Preighter flights are filling up passenger cabins with cargo instead, which was allowed during the COVID-19 pandemic to transport medical gear and other important cargo.
“Air cargo services had been vital for the economy and for coping with logistical challenges linked to the Covid-19 pandemic due to the reduction of cargo transported in the holds of passenger commercial planes,” the European Air Safety Agency (EASA) explained in a memo.
“During the peak of the pandemic, when almost all long haul operation had been suspended, there was a need to support the logistic chain with a solution to increase the cargo capacity using passenger aircraft to transport cargo on the main deck.”
“That is no longer the case, however, as airlines rush to build back passenger capacity lost during the pandemic. Airlines are pressing aircraft back into service and there is now sufficient cargo capacity in the belly hold of normal passenger services,”
“Following a review of the operational context for transport of cargo in the passenger cabin, the agency has concluded that the logistical challenges that arose in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 crisis no longer exist to the same extent”.
Preighter Work Was Essential For Dealing with COVID…
It is pretty clear that operating Preighter flights were essential for handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Without the extra cargo capacity, deliveries wouldn’t have been made quicker, and if anything would have sped up the process of potentially dealing with the virus too through vaccine use.
We also saw some incredible feats such as the Airbus A380 Preighter, where Emirates ripped out seats from the main cabins and stored them completely with cargo.
Using such innovation and quick thinking prevented the cargo market from collapsing with too much capacity to handle.
Will We Ever See Preighters Again?
It is probably likely that we won’t see preighters again for general use, but more in case, catastrophic events like COVID-19 happen again in the future.
This form of cargo transportation will be saved for emergencies only going forward.
That being said, the capacity gap that we will see as a result of preighters not being used will be definitely helped through the use of the Passenger to Freighter variants (P2F) that we are seeing on Airbus aircraft and on the Converted Freighters program with Boeing.
Such innovative practices will fill the gap and offer the necessary capacity for cargo moving forward.
It remains clear that preighters helped the world.
Looking ahead, it is a good thing that we won’t see them anymore, as they will now be a reflection of the sad times that we had to undergo during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The P2F market will definitely help with any capacity gaps and will most definitely serve the cargo market well.